Welcome to the ninth volume of you are here: the journal of creative geography. What you hold in your hands is actually our tenth ‘expedition’—owing to the fact that we published two issues one year—and this is an apt word to describe the journey the publication has taken since our last edition. We set out in the fall to expand our base—wanting to extend our call to explore creative geography to new communities of artists and writers. The response was tremendous with nearly quadruple the number of submissions. As the poems, art, and prose rolled in, the piles on my office floor grew mountainous—leaving me to wonder how we would climb through them all. But even in our marathon reading sessions, our team of explorers found time to delight in the nearly 700 visual, written, and poetic stories about the places people visit, inhabit, and imagine.
One of my own delights in working on the journal for the past two years is seeing the connections between the many pieces we receive, including often quirky coincidences. For example, numerous pieces centered on Lake Michigan last year and we had a recent spate of work dealing with buses and bus stops. Only one piece from this latter category was among our final selections, a painting by Olivia Webster that was inspired by a letter from her cousin describing a bus stop in Israel. This piece serves as a center point on a continuum between two themes that emerged for this issue: navigating through unfamiliar terrain, in this case amidst the chaos of suicide bombings, and finding a deeper understanding of one’s self and place through the small, familiar moments of everyday life.
Two poems by Ellen Goldstein bookend the thirteen selections for this issue. The first leads us into the uncharted waters that were once designated by mythical creatures on ancient maps—questioning the boundaries of our hearts and bodies. Patricia Smith’s fantastical renderings also draw out psychological divisions, mapping the internal rooms of the psyche on our cover image. The organic, alien feel of Smith’s drawings resonate well with the ancient fossils that serve as a touchstone in Celeste O’Dell’s vignette, as her young character contemplates the vastness of eastern Oregon and an uncertain world. Walter Bargen’s poem also dwells on the unmentionables of our internal and external environments, while the final Goldstein poem and six haikus from Leslie Clark reveal different takes for our familiar pictures of the frontier West and colonial South.
Even when all the coordinates are charted, it is our personal connections to place that make maps meaningful—as Jörn Seemann’s essay reminds us—and several selections search for these connections in more familiar grounds. Bárbara Renaud González’s poignant portrayal of a family that has lost both land and love sets her on a search to recapture a little of both in the bar where her parents met, while Amy Halloran finds what she’d been looking for in her own hometown. Several pieces give different takes on what we can discover when we stop to witness our own stomping grounds—whether it be listening to conversations on top of Snake Hill, finding love—or at least tolerance—for a pesky rooster named Victor, or learning new vocabulary for the local landscape.
All of these works find creative answers to our fundamental question: “Where are you?” As the journal nears its tenth anniversary, we’ve been asking this same question of ourselves and reflecting on our next decade of publication. Like the selections in this issue, we continue to expand into new areas, while staying rooted in our familiar surroundings. We are charting our future with the guidance of a newly created board of directors that includes several past editors and are considering options for expanding our distribution in print and online. In order to thrive and grow in the next decade the journal requires increased financial support and we are working to broaden our subscription base and fundraising efforts.
We are continually grateful for the support of our readers and we hope you will enjoy this issue of you are here. We also hope you will consider continuing your support in the years to come either through a renewed subscription or financial contribution, and by sharing with us your own visions of creative geography.
© 2009 you are here and the department of geography and regional development at the university of arizona